KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo will be well represented at the IU Medical School this fall, filling nearly half the class in one program.
The clinical laboratory science program draws nearly 50 applications from all over the country each year, with room to admit 12. The fall 2014 incoming class will include five students from IU Kokomo.
Pre-clinical laboratory science students Martin Alvarado, Courtney Cochran, Kayla Lawhead, and Patrick Russell, all from Kokomo, and Kelaerin Bax, Peru, were chosen for the Bachelor of Science program at IUPUI, after completing the first three years of the program on the Kokomo campus.
Christian Chauret, dean of the School of Sciences, said the campus has had students admitted to this program before, "but to have five students in one year is a new level of success that is extraordinary."
Russell credited faculty for setting high standards and making sure they were prepared, and his classmates, for working hard to achieve their goals.
Three semesters ago, he realized while his own grades were good, they might not be good enough to gain admission to the program. He asked for help when he needed it, and buckled down to study, earning 4.0 grades two of those three semesters.
"I wanted to do everything I could to be sure I was in the top 12," he said. "These last three semesters have been pretty intense, but it has prepared me for next year, with eight hours of classes, five days a week. The clinical laboratory science professional year has been compared to the first year of medical school."
Students who earn a Bachelor of Science degree in clinical laboratory sciences can become certified lab scientists, and work in hospital and diagnostic laboratories, in areas including blood banking, chemistry, hematology, immunology, and microbiology. This appeals to Russell, who wants to work in the medical field, but not directly with patients.
"I prefer behind-the-scenes medicine," he said.
For Alvarado, the program is a chance to use his scientific skills to help people.
"You analyze, interpret data, use high tech equipment, and apply the theories you learned in biology and chemistry," Alvarado said.
He appreciates the help he received from instructors, especially Chauret, Sara Deyo, Kasem Kasem, and John-Carl Olsen.
"Whenever I had questions, they were always available," he added.
Kayla Lawhead began college planning to be a dental hygienist, but decided two semesters into the program it was not for her. As she researched other health related careers, she found the clinical laboratory science program.
"As I learned more about it, I realized it was what I wanted to do all along, and it was available to me right near my home in Kokomo," she said. "The classes are difficult, but that's right down my alley. It's what I'm interested in doing."
The pre-clinical laboratory sciences program is part of the Division of Allied Health Sciences. Chairperson John Hughey said the degree is considered a "3+1+", meaning students take rigorous academic courses in science-oriented classes including biology, chemistry, immunology, and genetics, for three years. Then they apply for a fourth year in professional and clinical experience classes.
"The number of our students accepted into the professional portion of the program speaks volumes for the efforts of the students," said Hughey. "The faculty in Allied Health Science and the School of Sciences does a fantastic job of preparing students for careers. However, it is the students who ultimately demonstrate these efforts through achievements like this."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.